New research facility to help bring sustainable materials to market
Taking materials research from "lab to label" will be the focus of Deakin University's new Future Fibres Facility, which was unveiled today during the launch of the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres.
The hub is a collaboration between the Australian Research Council (ARC), Deakin and industry partners, using the world-class research teams and facilities at Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials.
Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin said the continued support for the Future Fibres Hub, which is now in its second iteration, demonstrates the value industry places in research collaboration and Deakin's commitment to fostering innovation.
"Work supported by our research hub and new fibres facility will bring benefits to a range of industries - such as automotive, mining and fashion - through a wide array of partnership projects," Professor Martin said.
"These projects also have a strong sustainability and circular economy focus, including the generation of fibres from new and sustainable sources, as well as fibres that can be recovered and reused. By creating smarter materials and technology, this work will contribute to Deakin's mission to translate ideas to impact, fostering innovation that strengthens the economy and enables a sustainable world."
Deakin boasts the largest and most advanced fibre research group in the southern hemisphere, with more than 110 researchers. The new Future Fibres Facility is unique, housing fibre production and yarn processing equipment, along with specialised knitting and weaving machines.
Future Fibres Hub Director Professor Joe Razal said the facility, located at Deakin's Waurn Ponds campus in Geelong, would enable research teams to take new ideas from inception through the prototype and production stage.
"For example, in the past, we could produce a sample of a new material, but not a whole garment. We couldn't go from lab to label before," Professor Razal said.
"Thanks to our new Future Fibres Facility, the final steps in that process are now available."
Working with industry partner Nanollose, Deakin researchers are helping to develop fabrics generated from waste products. With partner Xefco, they are working on a water-free method to dye and finish fabrics.
"Australians will be able to wear clothes and buy products made from materials that they know have far less environmental impact," Professor Razal said.
In a project with Carbon Revolution, Deakin researchers will help find ways to reduce waste in the manufacturing of carbon fibre composite wheels, a product in high demand for making vehicles lighter and more efficient.
"The research focuses on solving real-world problems and discovering ways to reduce waste from the manufacturing process," Professor Razal said.
"This not only benefits the local community with highly skilled jobs but also enhances our international reputation for innovation in Australia."
The new Future Fibres Facility is supported by the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF), a part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). The ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres includes research partners at the CSIRO, National University of Singapore, EMPA (Swiss Federal Labs for Materials Science and Technology), Aalto University (Finland) and Imperial College London.